Sunday, December 5News That Matters

Dodds demoted as Starmer wields axe in Labour reshuffle

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has revamped his frontbench team in the wake of dismal election results.

Anneliese Dodds has been sacked as shadow chancellor and will become party chair.

Replacing her as Rishi Sunak’s opposite number is former economist Rachel Reeves who said she was “honoured”.

Angela Rayner, who was sacked on Saturday as party chair and campaign coordinator in a move that went down badly in Labour ranks, was appointed shadow first secretary of state and shadow secretary of state for the future of work.

She was also given the title of shadow chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster, the equivalent of deputy prime minister in Sir Keir’s new team, and will shadow Michael Gove, as well as retain control over party matters, ahead of Ms Dodds.

On Twitter, she said she would “work tirelessly to reform our party” in order to “show that the Labour Party speaks for the working class”.

Of Ms Rayner’s move, Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates said: “This is the person who 24-hours ago was removed from the job as party chairman, kicking off an enormous briefing battle, with people saying that as one of the working class woman around Sir Keir Starmer, she was being punished and scapegoated for the poor election results.”

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Chief whip Nick Brown has been sacked and will be replaced by Alan Campbell.

A spokesman for Mr Brown said: “Nick thinks it’s a reasonable time for Nick to move on. He and Keir have parted on good terms, with mutual respect.

“He wishes Keir and the new chief whip every success.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell tweeted: “Sacking Nick Brown, one of the most experienced and tactically astute chief whips the party has ever had, is inept in the extreme.

“This looks like (Lord) Mandelson’s revenge.”

Former Labour leader Mr Corbyn, who is currently suspended from the party, warned that “reshuffles or cosmetic tweaks” were unlikely to bring voters back.

Writing in The Independent, Mr Corbyn said: “It is new ideas from across our movement – not reshuffles or cosmetic tweaks – that will bring hope back.”

Wes Streeting has been given a new brief on child poverty, while Lucy Powell will become shadow housing secretary.

Announcing his reshuffle, Labour leader Sir Keir said his party needed to “embrace the demand for change across our country.

“That will require bold ideas and a relentless focus on the priorities of the British people.”

He described his new shadow cabinet as a “refreshed and renewed team” who would “build the ambitious programme that will deliver the next Labour government.”

However, there were some faces who remained. Jonathan Ashworth stays on as shadow health secretary and Lisa Nandy remains shadow foreign secretary.

Other notable appointments:

• Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow home secretary

• David Lammy Shadow justice secretary

• John Healey – Shadow defence secretary

• Ed Miliband – Shadow business, energy and industrial strategy secretary

• Jonathan Reynolds – Shadow work and pensions secretary

• Emily Thornberry – Shadow international trade secretary

• Kate Green – Shadow education secretary

• Jo Stevens – Shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport

• Luke Pollard – Shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs

Has Angela Rayner been promoted or is her new role a sideways move?

Analysis by Tom Rayner, digital politics editor

24 hours ago the reports were that Angela Rayner was to be punished for the largely poor election results Labour has just experienced – having the roles of party chair and campaign coordinator stripped from her.

It was billed as a sacking, leading to furious briefing about her being ‘scapegoated’ and questions being raised about whether Sir Keir Starmer was making a huge mistake by seeking to undermine Labour’s elected deputy leader, whose working class roots and background as a care-worker and union official make her a powerful and popular figure in the party.

Earlier today the shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray told Sky News Angela Rayner was not in fact being sacked, but instead being offered a promotion “from the back office of the Labour Party, running elections, to the front office where she’s talking to the country”.

Her new role as shadow chancellor to the duchy of Lancaster means she will be going toe-to-toe with Michael Gove – responsible for scrutiny of his work at the cabinet office.

Is this a more public position? Is it more high-profile? There are valid arguments either way.

What is more important than whether this is a promotion or a sideways move is that Angela Rayner remains in Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

The furious responses to the idea she might be sacked, not just from figures on the Corbynite left like John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, but from people like Andy Burnham – the re-elected mayor of Greater Manchester who is riding high after another landslide victory – meant Sir Keir needed her to stay in his top team to avoid the already toxic tensions in his party boiling over completely.

That this reshuffle took as long as it did, announced hours after the party had intended, suggests Angela Rayner negotiated hard to get what she wanted.

We can take from that she sees her new role as a promotion, whatever anyone else thinks.